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Constantine IX, Monomachos. June 12 1042 - January 11 1055
Histamenon Nomisma c 1054, the year of Supernova SN 1054
Constantine IX, Monomachos was born in the year 1000 AD. He was a Byzantine Emperor from June 12 1042 until hid death January 11 1055. Constantine IX was a mediocre Byzantine ruler who spent most of the Imperial Treasury reserves built up by his predecessors. Nevertheless the arts and culture flourished and a University was established in Constantinople. The military was weakened and the soldier-farmers who comprised the backbone of the Byzantine military were quickly disappearing as their properties were amassed by wealthy land moguls. During his reign this curious Histamenon was issued in the year 1054. Its reverse features Constantine IX surrounded by two stars at about eye level. The stars are unusual and it is thought they signify a milestone event. Two notable events occurred in 1054. The first was the Great Schism when Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius and Pope Leo IX mutually excommunicated each other. The theory is the coin memorializes the Great Schism with each star hiding a Church of the East and the West. The Schism turned out to be a landmark event leading to many East-West conflicts and the eventual loss of Byzantium to the Ottomans when the West did not offer aid to the East in 1453. It would be impossible to forecast the significance of the Great Schism at the time and it is unlikely to have been a milestone to commemorate on a Byzantine coin. The second event was the Supernova SN 1054 that was first observed as a new "star" in the sky on July 4, 1054 AD. The supernova was so luminous it was visible in the daytime for three weeks in 1054. It has not been conclusively proven that Europeans recorded this astrological event but it has been documented by contemporary Chinese, Japanese, and Arab astronomers. It lasted for a period of around two years and its remnant (debris ejected during the explosion) is known as the Crab Nebula which is still visible today. Numismatists concluded that anyone interested in astronomy would have likely seen the supernova and that fact may conceivably have found its way onto this coin series of Constantine IX in the form of the two stars. Obverse Christ + IhS XIS RεΧ RεGNANTIηm. Reverse crowned Constantine IX in loros holding globe cruciger and sceptre. On both sides a star + CωηSτΑητοs baSILεuS RM
Mint: Constantinople
Provenance: Private acquisition

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